Current Issues in Law Enforcement: War on Drugs

Every year millions of dollars are spent on curbing the use of illegal drugs. The overall costs of using these drugs fall under three categories: namely health costs, productivity losses, and other costs. Between the years 1992 and 1998, the cost of drug abuse incurred by society increased by5.9% annually. By the year 1998, the societal cost of drug abuse was $143.4 billion. Of course over the years these costs have more than doubled and have consistently been increasing.

Hefty costs are incurred by the criminal justice system primarily and the law enforcement agencies have had to put in much time and effort in order to bring the drug problem under control but to little avail. (Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States, 2001)

Around $60billion are spent on average on drugs by 16million Americans, 7% of the US population which is over the age of 12. Most Americans when asked about what they think the most intimidating problem is state drug as their number one leading concern. Law enforcement agencies, federal and state legislators, as well as executive branch officials, are taking this concern seriously and have formulated policies that will help hinder if not completely put a stop to the drug problem.

Some of the policies include the prohibition of drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and a wide array of other such drugs. To stop the supply of drugs altogether steps have been taken to eliminate the crops like coca in source countries, controlling muggers, hustlers, and drug dealers by incarcerating them for a long period of time to deter their criminal activities. Furthermore, the state has made a conscientious effort to spread awareness about the harmful effects of drugs. (Caulkins, 2005)

Some critics are of the notion that the war on drugs is an utter waste of time and resources which has done little to decrease the use of drugs. If anything drug abuse has increased more than ever and the taxpayers’ money is only being wasted in the process. Law enforcement against prohibition is an alliance between police officers who are in favor of ending the war on drugs for the reason that it is useless. Since the four decades spent on the US policy on the war on drugs trillion tax dollars and 37 million nonviolent drug abusers have been incarcerated literally thriving the industry of building prisons. Despite all the money spent on this war not to mention resources and time, drugs still are still at large.

They are cheaper, readily available, and more widely distributed than ever before. At the same time the drug lords and barons have become more rich and powerful and theirs absolutely no stopping them. This so-called war on drugs is sheer waste and has failed to achieve the policies that it boasted would eliminate the problem. If anything it has fuelled it even more and has increased the level of street crimes and overcrowded the prisons. LEAP is of the notion that a system of regulation and control of production will be more fruitful and it will result in the conservation of tax dollars which can be better utilized elsewhere. (LEAP, n.d.)

The ONDCP (federal office of national drug control policy) which is primarily responsible for the coordination of war on drugs suggests the reduction of drug use in order to bring into control drug-related crimes and health issues. A report that was released by the department of justice stated that illegal drugs are present in almost all state prisons and it is made readily available through visitors, mail, and staff. While it can be controlled through putting restrictions on mails and checking visitors the problem of their own staff providing them is more complicated. (Eddy, 2003)

Whilst on the one hand critics believe the war on drugs is complete failure others reckon that it has had more success than it is given credit for. It’s a long-lived program dating back to the 1880s. Every local police force and justice system is working towards the common goal of annihilating this societal nuisance. This program has ensured the justification and rationalization of fighting drug-related crime alongside reducing health-related costs, creating drug-free zones especially in schools, and countering the drug-related finances of terrorists. Besides this, it provides jobs to thousands of people and brings in millions of dollars in revenue which is why it cannot be considered a failure. (Rozeff, 2005)

Factually the war on drugs has resulted in the arrest of tens of thousands of people annually for crimes that are linked with the use of illegal drugs. This war which some might claim as being pointless and wasteful has deprived people of the most basic constitutional rights such as the right to freedom of speech, the right to evade unauthorized searches, the right to travel, and above all the right to privacy.

The drug policy alliance is one such organization that has been involved in a number of legal challenges in accordance with the war on drugs. It has continuously tried to scientifically prove that the use of some drugs can be useful and indeed desirable. It continues to make effort in the way of developing public health care alternatives to the criminal justice-based policies that are characteristic of the war on drugs. (Drug Policy Alliance Network, n.d.)

Suffice it to say the war on drugs has transformed the law enforcement system. The financial assistance that the law enforcement agencies derive from drug law enforcement is vital to its existence. One might wonder why this policy on the war on drugs is not being done away with. The answer is pretty simple. It is a fully rational political and bureaucratic policy. The motive is purely financial as drug law enforcement is a lucrative business on which the police and the prosecution thrive. Police motivation is now derived from self-interest making them indulge in practices that have serious consequences for any rational law enforcement efforts. In trying to build a drug-free society the facets responsible have made a drug boom business that has only achieved the opposite of what was desired in the first place. (Bluemenson, 1998)


Drug Policy Alliance Network, n.d. Web.

Eric Bluemenson , n.d. Web.

Jonathan P Caulkins How Goes the “war on Drugs”? :An Assessment of U.S. Drug Problems and Policy (2005). Web.

Law Enforcement against Prohibition, n.d. Web.

Mark Eddy, 2003, War On Drugs. Web.

The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States. 2001. Web.